Astronomy magazine editors share their unique insight from behind the scenes of the science, hobby, and magazine.
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Humans cling to their primal fear of the dark

Posted 22 hours ago by Eric Betz
Your chances of being attacked, robbed, or struck by a car are no worse on a dimly lit street. And yet, like cavemen huddled around a campfire, humans are still comforted by light. Most of the 7 billion people on planet Earth have never seen the Milky Way. And within a decade, studies suggest that the spread of artificial light will wipe out the night sky’s most distinct feature in all but a few remote places within the United States.Until relatively recently, human history was record...
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Mike Reynolds reports from ALCon 2015

Posted 7 days ago by Michael Bakich
The Astronomical League (AL) and Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers (ALPO) held their annual meeting (the Astronomical League Convention, or ALCon) jointly July 6-11 in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The hosts were members of the Astronomical Society of Las Cruces (ASLC). The first two days were for field trips to local sites of interest; the last three were for papers, the Star-B-Que, and the closing Awards Banquet. Clyde Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto, and Walter Haas, founder of the ALPO, t...
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Science rocks Comic-Con

Posted 14 days ago by Michael Bakich
San Diego Comic-Con 2015 is now over. This major pop-culture event ran from July 9 through the 12th, not counting the preview night July 8. Quick summary: It rocked! NASA held two major events, panels concerned with education abounded, and it seemed like every sci-fi and fantasy author was obsessed with “getting the science right.” Let’s get the big news out of the way first. NASA was back at Comic-Con. The space agency first attended just last year, and the reaction was so ov...
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I'm off to see the wizards

Posted 23 days ago by Michael Bakich
Yep, wizards — plural. And dragons. And time lords. And Jedi. And every other kind of creature ever imagined in an environment I can describe only as the world’s greatest pop-culture convention. The 46th incarnation of San Diego Comic-Con International starts Thursday, July 9, and runs through Sunday the 12th, with a preview night Wednesday, July 8, for professionals, exhibitors, and press. This will be my third visit to Comic-Con, and I’m really looking forward to it. Comic-...
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SpaceX supply mission fails minutes after launch

Posted one month ago by Korey Haynes
On Sunday morning, SpaceX attempted what was to be the company's seventh resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS), only to have the unmanned vehicle break up just over two minutes after launch. The first six missions were successes for the private space firm, and Sunday was to be their third — so far unsuccessful — attempt to land their Falcon 9 rocket on a drone barge after launching the Dragon supply ship into orbit. While the rocket hit its target accurately on bo...
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Uwingu offers out-of-this-world Father's Day gift idea

Posted one month ago by Karri Ferron
Posted on behalf of the Uwingu team; Astronomy magazine is a proud partner of this effort to raise funding for space scienceNeed a last-minute present for dad? Space company Uwingu offers a great gift for Father’s Day with place names on its Mars map. Uwingu’s Mars Map will be carried to Mars aboard the first Mars One robotic lander.Through Father’s Day — Sunday, June 21 — Uwingu is offering special decorative Father’s Day certificates for anyone choosing to h...
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A closer look at PixInsight

Posted one month ago by Michael Bakich
Image contributor Ron Brecher, whose great shots have appeared on this website as well as in Astronomy magazine, has sent in a guest blog that’s a review of a product he’s quite fond of. We don’t publish software reviews in the magazine, so this virtual space is the perfect forum for such an article. Brecher’s review (with some of his images) follows: PixInsight (PI) is a powerful tool for deep-sky image processing, but it can be tough to learn. Documentation is incomple...
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Arsonist sets 9 spot fires near historic Lowell Observatory

Posted one month ago by Eric Betz
An unknown arsonist set nine spot fires within sight of Lowell Observatory on Wednesday and sent staff scrambling to put the blazes out with garden equipment, according to the Arizona Daily Sun in Flagstaff.The paper reports that the observatory’s sole trustee, Lowell Putnam, great-grandnephew of Percival Lowell, was having family over at his home on Mars Hill when a staff member smelled smoke and sounded the alarm.More than a dozen family members and staff armed themselves with garden too...
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T minus 800 days until the eclipse

Posted one month ago by Michael Bakich
A few days ago I realized that today — June 12, 2015 — is a milestone of sorts: 800 days until the big event. Are you excited yet? Probably. What I mean by that is that you’re reading a blog dedicated to the August 21, 2017, total solar eclipse, so it’s not a stretch to imagine where your interests lie. Here’s the thing, though. I’m not seeing that level of excitement in many other places. So far, most media stories about the 2017 event fall into the “...
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Making exoplanet news right here at Astronomy

Posted one month ago by Korey Haynes
Most days, I get to report about other scientists’ discoveries. But today, I’ll toot my own horn a bit. I’ve been here at Astronomy for six months now. But before that, I was a graduate student researching exoplanets, worlds beyond our solar system. And not just any worlds, but the massive planets called hot Jupiters, orbiting extremely close to their stars and heated to thousands of degrees. Specifically, I looked at their atmospheres, hoping to see water in enough detail tha...
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Dark matters by Adam Block

Posted one month ago by Michael Bakich
We are happy to present another guest blog by astroimager Adam Block. Each of his blogs features a great image and something special about it. This one links Block with cutting-edge research into galaxy formation. We live in a universe in which we see only highlights. Most of the matter is cold, dark, and clumpy stuff that neither absorbs nor emits light. Its existence is inferred from gravitational influence by how it, like the stuff we are made of, warps space-time. Clumpy is the key. Ac...
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A great resource for the upcoming eclipse

Posted one month ago by Michael Bakich
This review comes from Mike Reynolds, professor of astronomy at Florida State College at Jacksonville. A veteran of 18 total solar eclipses as well as an author of a book about eclipses, Reynolds knows the subject cold. As interest builds toward the "great American eclipse," resources will be paramount for successful eclipse chasers. Many will want — even require — detailed information. For those of us who have been chasing total solar eclipses for some while, we fondly re...
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Tomorrowland is a film every future scientist should see

Posted 2 months ago by Eric Betz
NASA’s man in Hollywood says the latest rash of sci-fi films show the agency still holds sway with young minds more than half a century after the launch of the Space Age.   “The future can be scary,” Frank Walker (played by George Clooney) tells audiences at the beginning of Disney’s latest film, Tomorrowland. He continues, “When I was a kid, the future was different.” As I watched the film premiere in Milwaukee this week, I paid close attention to a lit...
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Tales from a budding night sky photographer

Posted 2 months ago by Korey Haynes
Please welcome guest blogger Josh Thum. I had the pleasure of meeting Josh at a Yerkes Observatory star party a few weeks ago and was hugely impressed by the night sky photos he showed me, especially for someone still in high school. I thought you might like to hear his story and enjoy his work as well: My fascination with science began around fifth grade. At first, I took particular interest in marine biology and meteorology. As I matured, I strayed from these topics and eventually ...
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A short time ago in a state far, far away ...

Posted 2 months ago by Karri Ferron
Happy Star Wars Day! Yes, Astronomy magazine is a brand based in science, not science fiction, but we like to embrace the sci-fi side of things every once in a while in our offices, especially as science fiction has inspired many of us and our contributors to study the stars in the first place. And what better way to celebrate May the Fourth than with our resident Stars Wars expert, Senior Graphic Designer Chuck Braasch, who found inspiration for his career from the saga many years ago and recen...
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Uwingu announces an out-of-this-world Mother's Day celebration

Posted 3 months ago by Karri Ferron
Posted on behalf of the Uwingu team; Astronomy magazine is a proud partner of this effort to raise funding for space science.Space company Uwingu announced today a special campaign to honor moms for Mother’s Day with place names on its Mars map. Through Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 10, Uwingu is offering decorative Mother’s Day certificates for anyone choosing to honor a mom this celestial way. Two certificate options are available: either an electronic downloadable version or a b...
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C2E2 hears about Pluto

Posted 3 months ago by Michael Bakich
The fifth annual Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2) is over. It began Friday, April 24 and concluded Sunday, April 26. I was there as media, representing Astronomy magazine, for the fourth straight year. And, oh, was it fun! The convention venue was the North Building of Chicago’s McCormick Place. I could tell you lots of stories about my time there, but the memory of one sticks out above all the others combined. The event occurred Sunday at 12:15 p.m. on C2E2’s main sta...
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Celebrate Earth Day with NASA

Posted 3 months ago by Korey Haynes
At the congressional budget hearing on April 16, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden had to repeatedly defend his organization’s mission to perform cutting-edge science not just in aeronautics and space exploration, as the agency’s name makes clear, but also across all four research areas the science mission directorate is expected to cover: astrophysics, planetary physics, heliophysics, and Earth science. That last branch (incidentally the one for which Bolden came under particular f...
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I am headed back to C2E2

Posted 3 months ago by Michael Bakich
The fifth annual Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2) starts Friday, April 24 and runs through Sunday, April 26. I’ll be there as a member of the media for the fourth straight year. The convention, which, in addition to comics, spans the latest and greatest in the worlds of movies, television, toys, and video games, is being held in the North Building of Chicago’s McCormick Place. C2E2 is an opportunity for creative folks to express themselves in many ways to like-minded p...
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MESSENGER's about to crash into Mercury, and the last views from its death spiral are amazing

Posted 3 months ago by Eric Betz
The first spacecraft to orbit the innermost planet is running out of fuel and days away from plunging to its demise at an incredible 8,750 mph (14,080 km/h). Over the past several months, NASA has orchestrated a series of carefully planned maneuvers that has brought the orbiting observatory closer to Mercury’s surface than airplanes fly on Earth. And MESSENGER’s final daredevil skims are showing scientists fresh evidence that this Sun-scorched world is not entirely dead. "The spacec...
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New project explores humanity's severed link with the night sky

Posted 3 months ago by Eric Betz
A few weeks ago, I sat on a park bench overlooking the Port of Milwaukee hoping to glimpse the aurorae borealis lighting up much of the Northern Hemisphere. The horizon was fuzzy, but a 30-second exposure image revealed a distinct green band arcing over the city skyline.I drove for 35 minutes trying to find somewhere dark. When I hit Harrington Beach State Park and looked across Lake Michigan, curtains of green lights danced across the lake out to the eastern horizon — away from the city l...
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Celebrate the telescope's 25th anniversary with "Saving Hubble"

Posted 3 months ago by Karri Ferron
Back in January 2012, a documentary was presented at the American Astronomical Society meeting that created widespread buzz. Saving Hubble, directed by David Gaynes, focuses on the fight to save the ailing space telescope after NASA cancelled a servicing mission in 2004. Weaving in the great history of Hubble, it looks at the great impact the greatest telescope of all time has had not just on science, but on popular culture worldwide.While Saving Hubble became an immediate hit with scientists an...
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Help name Pluto's features!

Posted 4 months ago by Korey Haynes
With New Horizons speeding ever closer toward its July 14 close encounter with Pluto, astronomers are going to have unprecedented looks at the tiny planet’s thus far hidden features. And when they get their first close-up pictures, they’re going to want names for all the new discoveries. That’s where you come in.The SETI institute unveiled today ourpluto.seti.org, where you can vote on names for the yet-undiscovered craters and ridges, peaks and valleys and rifts – and wh...
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Swap or sell your stuff in Sheboygan

Posted 4 months ago by Michael Bakich
On Saturday, March 28, 2015, the Sheboygan Astronomical Society is hosting the eighth annual Swap ’N’ Sell. This year’s event will take place at the Aviation Heritage Center of the Sheboygan Airport in Wisconsin from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For those of you who own a GPS or like to use Google Maps or MapQuest, the address is N6191 Resource Drive, Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin 53085. Maybe you have some astronomy stuff like telescopes, eyepieces, accessories, cameras, or books you no lon...
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Eclipse map shows the brightness of the Sun from other worlds

Posted 4 months ago by Michael Bakich
I just received a great new graphic from Michael Zeiler, who runs GreatAmericanEclipse, LLC. He calculated the average brightness of the Sun at Mars, Ceres, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, and then translated those to lines on a map he created for the March 20, 2015, total solar eclipse. So, now, even if you're not fortunate enough to be in the path of totality (a bit dicey for this eclipse, to be sure), you may be able to use your location as a teaching tool to demonstrate how much sunli...
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Going to Kansas City

Posted 4 months ago by Michael Bakich
I guess me announcing that I’ll be speaking about the August 21, 2017, total solar eclipse that will cross the United States isn’t really news anymore. After all, I now have presented more than half a dozen such talks. But this one is different. I won’t be addressing an astronomy club, or a Rotary Club, or a chamber of commerce. Instead, I’ll be speaking at a pop culture event in Kansas City called Planet Comicon. To youth! To non-scientists! Oh, yeah. Planet Comicon run...
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Did Ceres once have oceans and life? NASA aims to find out

Posted 4 months ago by Eric Betz
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft settles into an 16-month mission exploring the protoplanet Ceres.  There was no dramatic entry. No high-risk maneuvers or nail-biting rocket firing. If NASA’s Dawn spacecraft missed on its slow crawl into orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres early Friday morning, engineers would have just tweaked the weak thrust of the ion engines and tried again.Instead, mission managers say the real drama will be the science unveiled as NASA begins to chronicle the histo...
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Travel the world with Astronomy magazine

Posted 4 months ago by Karri Ferron
If you could take one astronomy-related vacation in the next few years, what would it be? How about a cruise through the Arctic Sea to witness the northern lights or an adventure in Indonesia to experience a total solar eclipse? And what if you could be guided by local experts as well as editors from Astronomy? Thanks to the magazine’s new partnership with TravelQuest International, a top-rated travel company dedicated to astronomy-themed trips, you can start your vacation planning now. W...
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Legendary planetary imager Don Parker passes away

Posted 5 months ago by Michael Bakich
On Sunday night, February 22, world-renowned planetary imager Donald Parker of Coral Gables, Florida, died after a long battle with lung cancer. Parker was a longtime contributor to Astronomy magazine, and imagers around the world followed and mimicked his techniques. He wrote stories spanning two decades for the magazine about Mars, including "1988: A great year for Mars" in the March 1988 issue and "Relive the Red Planet's big show" in the June 2006 issue. Parker also contributed to a well-r...
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Talking about the eclipse in Tucson

Posted 5 months ago by Michael Bakich
Most of what I’ve written on this website and elsewhere in the past six months has been in some way related to the total solar eclipse people across the United States will experience August 21, 2017. So, it should come as no surprise that while Astronomy’s Editor David J. Eicher and I are in Tucson, that very subject should come up. In fact, it came about because a while back my dear friend Dave White asked me to speak to the Rotary Club of Tucson, of which he’s a member, abou...

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